Click on the questions to see the answers.

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How can I get started using LearnEnglish?
Answer: 

We have a page all about getting started on LearnEnglish.

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How can I improve my speaking?
Answer: 

The most important thing you can do is to speak English as often as possible. To do this a partner is very helpful, so think about the people you know and consider if any of them could be a practice partner for you. Even if you do not have a practice partner, it is still possible to practise alone. Just speaking English to yourself while you are at home, going about your normal daily activities, can help a great deal with your fluency and can help you to feel more confident.

You can also use the audio and video materials here on LearnEnglish to improve your fluency. After doing the exercises, try listening with the transcript (listening and reading). Then try saying the text yourself, and finally try saying it with (and at the same speed as) the recording. This will help you to develop speed in your speech, which is a key component of fluency. You'll also pick up a lot of language as chunks – words which are often used together in set phrases – which you can use to communicate with less hesitation.

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How can I improve my vocabulary?
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To improve your vocabulary it's important to do three things:

  • see new and familiar words and phrases in context
  • note down new items in an organised manner
  • practise, revise and review new items systematically.

The Listen & Watch section on LearnEnglish is a great source of reading and listening materials and working through this section will help you with the first point. The more you read – magazines and newspapers, journals, short stories, novels, poems ... in fact, whatever genre or kind of writing interests you – the better, and you can find an inexhaustible supply on the internet, of course. We also recommend very strongly that you start (if you haven't already) a personal vocabulary book. Organise it by topic (sports, work, appearance, finance, etc.) and add new words and phrases to it as you listen, watch and read in English. Use it to test yourself so you can see how well you memorise the items.

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How can I improve my writing?
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How to write depends upon what kind of writing you want to do, for what purpose you are writing and who the recipient is. Different kinds of writing require different language and different ways of organising the text, so the first thing to do is to take a look at as many different texts as you can. In general, to improve your writing it's important to read and write as much as possible, so keep an eye out for good examples of letters, articles and so on. Using the internet to read magazines, newspapers and other text-types from online media is a good idea. If you are interested in academic writing, then our Writing for a Purpose section might be what you are looking for; to learn how to write business emails, see our English for Emails section.

If possible, you should get feedback from a teacher or knowledgeable friend on your writing. Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to give users individualised feedback on their writing, but you can still use LearnEnglish to do some work on your own. For one thing, you can respond to other users in the comment sections to carry on a written conversation. Good writers learn from reading other writers' texts, so you could learn a lot about writing from reading the content on the site. Our Magazine might be a good place to start if this interests you.

Whatever you do, try to spend at least 15 minutes several days per week reading and/or writing. When you have doubts, ask a friend or teacher, or you're also welcome to ask us periodically here by using the comments sections on each page. Remember also that it's important to write in an organised way: start by collecting your thoughts, then plan how you are going to organise them, then write a first draft. After that, check (or get someone else to check) your draft before writing your final version. Research shows that good writers constantly review their work and amend it, so this is a good model.

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How can I find out the meaning of new words?
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To look up new words, use our Cambridge Dictionaries Online search tool, which you can find on the right of most pages. If the search engine does not provide a result then check you have spelled it correctly or try phrasing it slightly differently, including only the relevant items and not other words from the sentence.

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Where can I look up grammar information?
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Apart from using the search facility, you can use the index of our grammar pages. You will see links to various sections there, as well as a link to our A–Z of grammar content.

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How can I find material on a given topic or area?
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We have a page which displays the content available at a particular level for a particular topic.

Another way is to use the search facility, which you can find at the top-right of most pages. Simply click on the magnifying glass icon, type a key word into the search window and click the icon again or press 'enter'.

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What are the comment sections for?
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The comment sections can be used for many things! They are for you to comment on the material and help other users. So if you see a question or a comment from another user and you think that you can help them, or would just like to give them some positive comments, please do so. You can also use the comment sections to ask questions. The LearnEnglish Team is made up of experienced teachers, trainers and authors and we try to help users where we can. However, please remember that our primary role on LearnEnglish is maintaining the site and adding new content, so we do not have unlimited time to answer questions!

Questions that we are more likely to answer

  • are short
  • are specific
  • include a concrete example
  • ask about something which is not covered on an existing page.

Questions which are unlikely to be answered

  • are long
  • ask about large and vague areas of English
  • ask about something which is already covered on another page.

An example of a good question is:

In the sentence 'He has been to Spain many times this year', is it correct to use the past simple ('went') instead of the present perfect ('has been')?

An example of a question which is unlikely to be answered is:

Please explain to me all the uses of the present perfect and when we can use the past simple instead of it.

Finally, if you want to post a question, please do so on the relevant page. For example, if your question is about adverbs, post on an adverb-related page.

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What should I do if I cannot see some of the content or if some exercises or videos do not work for me?
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Some of the materials on LearnEnglish require an up-to-date web browser. If you are having problems, the first step is to ensure you are using the latest version of your web browser. If this does not solve the problem, try accessing the site on a different device, such as a laptop or desktop computer. If this solves the problem, then you know that the problem is with the first device you used.

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Can you answer my question about the British Council?
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At LearnEnglish we focus on ... learning English! If you have a question about the British Council in your country, please remember that LearnEnglish is a global website and we don't know about everything that's happening with the British Council in every country. Please visit the British Council website for your country – you can find a list of websites for each country here or just search for them in your favourite search engine.

If you have a more general question about the British Council, you might be able to find the answer on the British Council website. If it doesn't have the information you are looking for, you can contact the enquiries desk directly.

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Can you suggest a course where I can study?
Answer: 

You can learn English by taking face-to-face lessons in our British Council teaching centres; you’ll be learning with the world’s English experts.

If you are interested in studying in the UK, please visit EducationUK or if you are interested in learning English in the UK, please visit EnglishUK.